Monday, December 12, 2011

Culture of problem solving

There is this facebook group where my relatives interact and share things. If you take the average age of the active users in that group, I am sure it will be touching 35 or even a bit more than that. But strangely you would see puzzles like,

Replace the question marks! 
3 9 1 2 8 3
9 ? ? 2 1 9
1 ? ? 3 9 1
2 1 9 3 8 2
8 3 9 1 2 8
3 8 2 1 9 3

8 3 3 8 8 2 2 8
8 2 2 8 8 3 3 8

being posted and members solving such puzzles with child like enthusiasm. Solving puzzles and asking puzzles is the favorite pass time in our culture. If you take my home, at times as soon as they get the English news paper, except me all the others rush to pick the news paper take the Sudoku page and copy it down on a peace of paper and retreat to different place armed with a pencil in hand and for the next few minutes the house goes dead silent. No body really checks whether they completed or not there aren't any awards on offer for it but its an inner calling for them to solve problems.

Similarly when I was a kid I can remember when children from our community met up one of the things that they used to do was to ask tricky puzzles and try to trick each other. It keeps on getting harder and people spend a lot of time trying to find them and also others spend even more time solving them. At times for people like me, it has been irritating, when I wanted amma's attention she would be doing a Sudoku  or when I wanted to play or read a book someone keeps on annoying me with puzzles for which I do not have the capacity to solve.

While being a kid I never ever thought that this was a useful thing, until I joined the Software industry. The way I was selected and now, the way I select people at interviews also greatly revolves around puzzles and problem solving capability. At that point it just clicked to me, what ever puzzles that I was forced to do as a child has helped me in improving my problem solving skills.

Later on when I started to travel I started to observe people and cultures and then realized that this was not just a family thing but its actually a cultural thing. In reality its one of the most richest things of our culture. This ability has made us in to what we are. In pursuit of industrialization and modernization we are now failing to notice the value of this culture and how unique it is. Being in such an environment of experiencing problem solving is one good thing that can happen to any child. Hope who oppose everything of culture realize to filter the goods part if it!


  1. Bit confused, cultural thing? ... Sudoku puzzle is something so popular in Australia, so is the case in europe I am sure. Newspapers dedicate full page, at times two pages for puzzles and sudokus. Commuters dare to read to news put spend time on it.

    Oneday I was reading a news paper in the train, an aussie came and asked me something, I thought he was asking my paper, I was bit amused, but he told he only wanted the sudoku page if I dont mind, and he torn it off ...

    I have experiences people sitting beside me asking when they got stuck with a sudoku too...

    its surprising how they are well and so into it ...probably that's the cultural thing you referring I guess

  2. JK, Sudoku was one of the three examples I took to explain how much they like to spend time solving puzzles. I am not sure whether if you had observed the amount of time people spend time on puzzles in different cultures - If you do I am sure you would realize what I am referring to.